Much Ado Over Sierra Nevada

If you are a follower of the beer blogosphere, or the Twitosphere, I suppose, you’ll know by now that California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, the second largest craft brewery in the United States, has chosen a location just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, as the site of their new east coast brewery. This has some people cheering and others worrying about the chilling effect the arrival of a large capacity brewery could have on the craft brewers of the east. It is to that second group that I direct the following:

  • Sierra is adding capacity, much as they have been doing for the last dozen or more years. They are not declaring war on eastern craft breweries;
  • If Sierra had chosen instead to add capacity to their existing brewery, it would not have had any significantly different effect and you would not be worrying about it. Sierra is already a national brand and having the brewery in NC merely helps co-ordinate distribution;
  • As I wrote last year in Ale Street News, one million new barrels of craft beer is the minimum the U.S. will require within the next year if the current pace of market expansion is maintained, and I can find no reason to doubt it will. Sierra’s new brewery won’t even be operational until early in 2014, much less running at its 300,000 barrell capacity.

So relax. The fact that Sierra has chosen a new home — and we think New Belgium and Stone might soon follow suit — is a very good thing, not just because it signals the very good health of craft brewing in the U.S., but also because it will bring much national media attention to the craft beer market and thus expand it even further. These are the glory days. Enjoy them!



3 Replies to “Much Ado Over Sierra Nevada”

  1. Personally I am happy that they realize that environmentally speaking, shipping across the country doesn’t really make sense. I am sure that the financial costs has more than a little to with it as well but I don’t see it being that big of a deal.

  2. Fully agree with you. Their beers are already prominent in almost every market, so this isn’t really changing anything.

    The problem is that people are automatically afraid of the big guys, no matter what. They don’t stop to consider that this may not be predatory at all, but merely logistically convenient. Sierra Nevada makes top notch products and continues to be a leader in innovation at the same time. They are the least of the potential problems for the industry.

  3. Sierra is getting their beers to Australia and the Torpedo @$90 case is my beer of choice. Their brand has only improved in my mind and yes I still view them as 100% craft. 30 cases of Brooklyn Stout arrived in Aus last week im still getting evil looks from wife over the price on the credit card.

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